Earth has been shedding sea ice at an average annual rate of 35,000 square kilometres since 1979, a new NASA study has found.

Warming occurs particularly fast in the Arctic and exerts profound effects on arctic ecosystems. Sea ice-associated ecosystems are projected to decline but reduced arctic sea ice cover also increases the solar radiation reaching the coastal seafloors with the potential for expansion of vegetated habitats, i.e. kelp forests and seagrass meadows. These habitats support key ecosystem functions, some of which may mitigate effects of climate change.

When sea ice forms it scavenges and concentrates particulates from the water column, which then become trapped until the ice melts. In recent years, melting has led to record lows in Arctic Sea ice extent, the most recent in September 2012. Global climate models, such as that of Gregory et al. (2002), suggest that the decline in Arctic Sea ice volume (3.4% per decade) will actually exceed the decline in sea ice extent, something that Laxon et al. (2013) have shown supported by satellite data.

Ocean surface waves (sea and swell) are generated by winds blowing over a distance (fetch) for a duration of time. In the Arctic Ocean, fetch varies seasonally from essentially zero in winter to hundreds of kilometers in recent summers. Using in situ observations of waves in the central Beaufort Sea, combined with a numerical wave model and satellite sea ice observations, we show that wave energy scales with fetch throughout the seasonal ice cycle. Furthermore, we show that the increased open water of 2012 allowed waves to develop beyond pure wind seas and evolve into swells.

Earth’s ability to reflect sunlight is diminishing due to drastic melting of sea ice in Arctic Ocean, a new study says.

Last year, 2013, was tied with 2003 as the fourth warmest year since records began in 1880, according to the US government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

We investigated the impact of radiosonde data from the ice-free Arctic Ocean obtained by the Japanese R/V Mirai during a cruise in the fall of 2010 on the AFES-LETKF experimental ensemble reanalysis version 2 (ALERA2) data set. The reanalysis used radiosonde data over the ice-free region. Compared with observations, it captured Arctic cyclogenesis along the marginal ice zone, including a tropopause fold, very well.

The amount of sea ice in the Arctic has fallen to the lowest level on record, a confirmation of the drastic warming in the region.

Environmental scientists have known that high levels of the toxic element, mercury, have been accumulating in the Arctic Ocean for some time.

The ice has not recovered from a record low in 2007 – ice-free summers could soon become a regular feature across most of the Arctic Ocean.